Roasted Bone Marrow with Parsley and Sorrel Salad

My food tastes are ever evolving. I remember the first time we went to Fergus Henderson’s St John restaurant years ago and being intrigued by his Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad which was his signature dish and is still on the menu today. At the time I was not adventurous enough to try it. This seems surprising to me to look back on this, as very little food these days intimidates me and the thought of eating bone marrow doesn’t seem outlandish as it once did.

Roast Bone Marrow with Parsley and Sorrel Salad | Stroud Green Larder

The inclusion of bone marrow on a menu is no longer shocking, most recently I was served a magnificent portion at Oslo in Hackney where they presented six deliciously huge shafts with hunks of bread for scooping out the unctuous melting marrow on a giant wooden board. It has also become very accessible to buy and there was a bit of a fuss when Waitrose started stocking it last year as part of their forgotten cuts range.

Roast Bone Marrow with Parsley and Sorrel Salad | Stroud Green Larder

Roast Bone Marrow with Parsley and Sorrel Salad | Stroud Green Larder At home, we regularly devote Sunday afternoons to creating wonderful Osso Bucco Milanese which has become one of our favourite family dishes. It is now so prevalent as part of our everyday ingredients that my husband I randomly bought bone marrow from separate vendors over the weekend for our meals this week, so our kitchen this week is bursting with this under appreciated cut of meat.

 

It’s encouraging to think that I, along with the rest of the British nation, are becoming more open minded about the food we eat, it’s not all shepherds pie, spaghetti bolognaise and roast dinners anymore. Although I do make a mean version of all three. The current food revolution in this country has been long overdue and seems to be picking up more steam year on year as we are embracing, not only our own discarded food heritage, but also launching headlong into discovering the best bits from other countries too. It is like we have been starved for decades living on our continued food rationing, not realising that the world has moved on. Well, in the past 15 years so have we and we’re throwing ourselves into every fad with gusto, hence the popularity for food trucks and street food. Let’s see which trends stick.

Roast Bone Marrow with Parsley and Sorrel Salad | Stroud Green Larder I opted yesterday to roast the bone marrow simply with a parsley salad, the way Fergus Henderson does it, adding citrusy sorrel to the proceedings to freshen it up. The marrow bones only take 15 minutes in the oven so they were quick to prepare for such a joyous treat. Plenty of fat dripped into the roasting dish which I promptly drained into a jar for roast potatoes at a later date. I also prepared more bone marrow than I needed which meant I could scrape out the marrow that I didn’t immediately want to put it in the fridge for an instant flavour injection for future meals. The marrow is wonderful for adding to sauces and stews, contributing a unique umami flavour and meaty depth, like the best stock cube you could imagine. I then put the leftover roasted bone shafts in a huge casserole dish with leeks, onions, carrots, bay, thyme and seasoning, filled it with water and simmered for hours to create an unparalleled beef broth.

Bone Marrow is also crazily good for you, nutrient dense and high in protein and the best kind of fats, so although it feels luxurious to eat, you can feel extremely saintly. And if you are still not convinced, it is excellent value. I bought 2kg for £6 which I will reap the benefits from for many meals to come over the next few weeks.

Roast Bone Marrow with Parsley and Sorrel Salad | Stroud Green Larder

Roast Bone Marrow with Parsley and Sorrel Salad
Serves 2

4 Bone Marrow Shafts
garlic cloves, crushed
50g sorrel
40g parsley
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
30ml extra virgin olive oil
seasoning

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the bone marrow shafts, bone side down into a large baking dish. Sprinkle the crushed garlic and some seasoning along the shaft then place in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes. The bone should just be turning gold at the edges and the marrow glistening. Remove from the oven
  3. Whisk together the Dijon mustard, lemon juice and seasoning and then pour in the olive oil in a slow steady stream, whisking it in until fully emulsified.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the parsley and sorrel and serve with the hot bone marrow.

Chargrilled Steak with Sun-dried Tomato and Anchovy: Day 30 of Whole30

Chargrilled Steak with Sun-dried Tomato and Anchovy
My new food fad came about completely by accident last week. I had finished a particularly grueling personal training session and was so ravenous I could have eaten the entire contents of my kitchen, but so exhausted I didn’t have the energy to lift a finger. I think I stared vacantly into my fridge for a good ten minutes, willing the food to leap out and cook itself. Thank goodness I spied some skirt steak, the quickest cooking cut of beef there is. The injection of iron is perfect after exercise to replenish energy stores.

I had been meaning to make something with the half jar of sun-dried tomatoes that had been languishing at the back of the fridge for a while. So I seized the opportunity for a no-nonsense accompaniment to my steak and threw it in the blender. Then I basically just started throwing other stuff in the blender that seemed to go with it. It was the addition of the tin of anchovies though that turned this from a quick practical supper to a heady combination of meditteranean influence as the kitchen suddenly filled with the salty sweet herby aroma of summer. The sun streamed through the window as I threw my steak on the griddle and I ended up with the most divine heart strengthening salad I have had in my entire Whole30 month. And I have had a lot of salads.

Chargrilled Steak with Sun-dried Tomato and Anchovy  |  Stroud Green Larder

There was plenty of the sauce left over and I have pretty much been adding it to everything ever since. A couple of tablespoons went into a bolognaise I was making, a teaspoon went into some fresh tomatoes to bolster the flavour and I have even been dunking celery into it as a very satisfying snack. The anchovies inject such a deep intensity of savouriness without you even knowing they are there. The sun-dried tomatoes, which can sometimes be a little cloying by themselves, sing of sunshine sweetness whilst the red wine vinegar brings the two into check and the herbs boost the freshness.

Do make this and use it as a salad dressing, a bagna cauda type dip or a pasta sauce; add to your stews, soups or even use as the tomato base for your pizzas. It’s quick to put together and you will reap the benefit for many meals to come. I would imagine it would keep for about a week in the fridge, but it’s far to useful to last that long and mine most certainly didn’t. Luckily, I made some more.

Well, that was it. The very last recipe on my Whole30 challenge. It has been a very good month, I haven’t blogged about even half the lovely recipes I have discovered and I can’t say I have missed out on that much (but oh my goodness I can’t wait to have a gin and tonic). The only real unquenchable craving I’ve had is the actual act of baking which I can’t wait to get back to as soon as possible. Oh, and I have lost a little bit of weight which was the point of the whole exercise but not enough that I can rest on my laurels. So this will not be the end of everything I have learned on the Whole30. I am sure lots of what I blog about in the future will continue in the Whole30 or paleo vein but interspersed with a little bit more cake.

Chargrilled Steak with Sun-dried Tomato and Anchovy  |  Stroud Green Larder

Just as a quick note before you get onto the recipe. I originally made this with skirt steak but when I re-created the dish for the blog I could only get hold of rump steak. It was infact the biggest slab of steak I have ever seen in my life. Obviously you can use any steak you like but do bear in mind that every cut of steak will require different cooking times. The best guide that I have found is on Delia’s website if you are unsure.

Chargrilled Steak with Sun-dried Tomato and Anchovy
Serves 4

600g steak (skirt, rump, sirloin, whatever you fancy)
2 tbsp lemon and garlic oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper
200g sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
50g anchovies
2 tsp red wine vinegar
25g of fresh basil leaves
A tbsp roughly chopped fresh oregano
About 100ml olive oil
A large bunch of rocket
1 red pepper, sliced very thinly

  1. Mix together the lemon and garlic oil and Dijon mustard then rub it all over the steak with plenty of salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a griddle pan on the hob until smoking then place the steak in the centre and cook for about 3 minutes each side, depending on how thick your steak is. When it’s done to your liking then remove from the heat and leave to come to room temperature whilst you carry on with the dressing.
  3. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and the anchovies from their olive oil, reserving the oil as you will need to add it back in later.
  4. Put the sun-dried tomatoes into a blender along with all the ingredients (apart from the rocket).
  5. Measure out the reserved olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and anchovies, you need 200ml. If there is not enough then top up with some extra virgin olive oil from your larder. Pour into the blender as well.
  6. Blend it all up until smooth. Check for seasoning before decanting into a jar and drizzling over your warmed steak. Serve with plenty of peppery rocket and slithers of red pepper.

Homemade Almond Milk: Day 24 of Whole30

Homemade Almond Milk
When I was in my mid-twenties I was unwell a lot, I was missing a lot of time of work and since I had quite a busy job I was really feeling the strain. The days I did go into work I usually felt awful, constantly sick and exhausted with pounding headaches. The doctors tested me for everything but in their eyes I was fit and well. So under the advice of my personal trainer I went to a local kinesiologist to seek a more holistic approach, which was a fun if slightly batty experience. Kinesiology is the study of human movement and a series of simple tests on muscles is believed to determine any imbalances in the body. Since by this time I was fed up of going to the doctors for them merely to shrug and give me further blood tests the holistic approach seemed a welcome relief.

Homemade Almond Milk  |  Stroud Green Larder

Homemade Almond Milk  |  Stroud Green Larder

The kinesiologist put various food samples in my hands and tested my muscle response to see if any particular food group was causing an imbalance in my body and by eliminating the incriminating substances from my diet she hoped to determine the cause of my lack of energy and why I was frequently plagued by nausea and headaches. Now the results were not a short list; it turned out I was intolerant to mushrooms (yay, I hate them anyway), beer (ditto), soy (meh), marmite (hmm, I always quite liked marmite), wheat (oh) and dairy (noooooo). At the time I was subsisting on a diet of chicken baked in tomatoes and crème fraiche and I did so love my cups of tea; I couldn’t bear having to give these up.

However, if I thought about it, the dairy thing kind of made sense. As a child I was never able to eat cereal as the milk made my ears pop, like I had lost my centre of gravity, and since taking up the tea habit in my late teens I was never able to drink more than a couple of mugs before getting my patented ‘tea tummy’.

The inability to tolerate lactose is more prevalent in human beings than we realise. Most mammals cease to produce lactase after being weaned which means they become intolerant to lactose and although many human beings have developed lactase persistence into adulthood, meaning that they can digest lactose normally, Wikipedia says (so it must be bible) that in 75% of adults lactase activity is decreasing, leading to the intolerance of lactose.

Homemade Almond Milk  |  Stroud Green Larder

Homemade Almond Milk  |  Stroud Green Larder

Over the years I have managed to erase wheat from my everyday cooking, only saving it for my baking addiction and the odd burger from Meatliquor, which is why you see so many gluten free recipes on this site. However, the dairy thing has plagued me off and on for years, I have been more than happy to treat myself to a bit of dairy for the odd recipe but slowly I found that I was consuming it every day again, mainly in my tea but also cheese, yoghurt and my own personal temptation, crème fraiche (seriously, I was adding it to everything).

Since I began to think about and then embark upon the Whole30 I have successfully managed to cut it out for 24 days and counting. Now, thank goodness the Whole30 allows caffeine as it has meant that I can happily still drink my beloved two cups of tea a day without any guilt. The reason I can do that… well now finally I am getting round to my point… is Almond Milk (cue halos and a heavenly chorus).

I see a lot of American paleo sites are a bit concerned about commercialised almond milk due the ingredient of carrageenan which is used as a thickener and which some studies show has slight carcinogenic properties. However, I cannot see it included in the ingredients list of my normal Alpro Almond Milk. Still, I have been keen to try my hand at homemade almond milk since the beginning of my Whole30 plan and I finally took the milky plunge this week. My word, am I glad I did, it’s like discovering almond milk again which has meant more angels and more heavenly music.

Homemade Almond Milk  |  Stroud Green Larder

I never really minded the substitution of almond milk for dairy in my tea, it was different, but for me cleaner than dairy, it has a sharper flavour and seems to strengthen the taste of the tea rather than soften it like dairy. However, since I like my tea as mighty as an ox this turned out to be the milk I was looking for. However, this homemade stuff is the real deal; richer, silkier, fresher, more nutty and made my tea feel much more luxurious, almost as if it had whole milk in it.

Before I started looking into it I couldn’t imagine how almond milk was made but it turns out that it’s pretty straightforward. You just soak the almonds in water for a couple of days, drain them and then blend with fresh water. The milk is produced immediately but you will want to strain through muslin to get rid of all the nitty gritty. It’s worth mentioning though that at the end of the milk making process you will be left with some soggy almond meal in the muslin after straining, I would heartily recommend you dry this in a low oven before keeping in a jar as they make an absolutely perfect breadcrumb substitution.

Homemade Almond Milk  |  Stroud Green Larder

Homemade Almond Meal  |  Stroud Green Larder

I am pleased that the Whole30 has made me embrace almond milk again and I know I will never go back to whole milk in my tea. I cannot say I will avoid all dairy in the future but it is certainly a good thing to keep to a minimum since I cannot deny that as soon as I limited my wheat and dairy intake the daily headaches and nausea faded away. I have lots of plans for this almond milk as its possibilities are so much more adventurous than just adding to tea but they do include a bit of baking and ice cream making and I can’t wait for my Whole30 to be over so I can get stuck in.

Homemade Almond MilkHomemade Almond Milk
Makes around 500ml
Adapted from thekitchn.com

150g whole unblanched almonds
500ml of water, plus extra for soaking

  1. Place your almonds in a medium bowl then pour over enough water so it covers the almonds by an inch.
  2. Cover with cling film and leave for two days for the almonds to soften.
  3. Drain and rinse the almonds then place in a blender with the 500ml water. Whizz up for a couple of minutes until it’s as smooth as you can get it.
  4. Place two layers of muslin in a large bowl, wide enough to gather up after you pour in the milk mixture.
  5. Pour the milk mixture on top of the muslin then gather up all the corners and tie up with string.
  6. Lift up the muslin ball and watch all the clean almond milk drip into your bowl. Squeeze the muslin ball to get as much milk as you can.
  7. That’s it. Pour the milk into a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge. You can reserve the almond meal left over in the muslin for breadcrumbs or baking.
  8. The almond milk only lasts for a few days so drink up quickly.

Almond Milk Tea  |  Stroud Green Larder

Sesame Salmon Tartare: Day 22 of Whole30

Sesame Salmon Tartare
So I am finally on my last week of Whole30. I will not lie to you, it has been difficult. It isn’t so much the everyday eating which is all well and good as I love a bit of a salad, I am happy to eat my fair share of protein and I will wolf down pretty much any vegetable you put in front of me. However, I have felt a bit out at sea when I plain don’t want to cook or am out and about and have to rely on someone else’s cooking.

Salmon Marinade  |  Stroud Green Larder

Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

Good luck to you if you want to eat at a restaurant on the Whole30, it’s not an easy prospect due to restrictions on carbs, dairy, legumes and sugar but I just about managed it this weekend due to The Maynard in Crouch End’s hog roast stall. It was a bit of a palaver as I had to order the two components of my meal separately. I went into the pub to order the side salad off their normal bar menu and then once it had arrived I went out to the front of the pub to the special hog roast stall they had set up that day to order my pork sans brioche burger. It worked well in my favour though as I think he took pity on me for just ordering a pile of meat and served me the biggest portion of pork you can imagine. It ended up being a delicious lunch but it was the third pub we had gone into to try and find food and my hunger was beginning to turn me into the Hulk.

Dressed Cucumber  |  Stroud Green Larder

Black and White Sesame Seeds  |  Stroud Green Larder

In my normal every day life I eat out at restaurants a lot. I like to try new food, sample the extraordinary dishes of talented chefs and also, since I spend so much time in the kitchen myself, I am always looking for a bit of a break where someone else can cook for me. It is my absolute bugbear, therefore, that when I am trying to watch what I eat there is so little catering for that in the big wide world. So excuse me if I have a mini tantrum; feel free to skip down to the part where I discuss the recipe below if you can’t bear it, I have some nice things to say about my new salmon invention. Still reading, okay, you were warned. I look forward to the days, as I know they will arrive soon, when more UK restaurants and pubs understand that you don’t need carbs to have an enriching, complex and exciting meal. Salads and vegetables should be celebrated and treated like the main event and not an afterthought or a side dish. I know I can eat like this at home so is it so difficult to eat like this out of home? A few restaurants already understand this kind of cooking implicitly, the Ottolenghi restaurants always have queues stretching out the door and round the corner and it’s no wonder, the sheer variety in their ingredients and flavours is outstanding. Bruno Loubet’s Grainstore in Kings Cross also prides itself on giving vegetables equal billing, if not the starring role, to the meat and their menu is always fantastic and innovative. However, until these kind of restaurants become more prolific and pubs offer a more diverse menu then we will have to satisfy ourselves at home.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

This sesame salmon tartare is a wonderful example of a carb free, sugar free and dairy free recipe which is just so satisfying and bounteous with all kinds of levels of flavour. It seems a bit fancy but it is really just a gussied up salad with no more skill required than just a bit of chopping and stirring. But then you taste it and you come right back to fancy again.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green LarderWhen you mention raw fish you tend to think of sushi or ceviche which can sound a bit clever and terrifying as you are dealing with raw fish. However, just make sure you trust where your fish is coming from and you’ll be fine to prepare either one at home. This recipe lies more on the ceviche side than the sushi side as the lime juice in the marinade ‘cooks’ the fish. The salmon is absolutely delicious on its own with a definite hint of umami but with the addition of lightly dressed cucumber and naked avocado it becomes a proper event. It’s the kind of food that requires you to sit at the table and savour every mouthful. Don’t skimp on the sesame seed garnish either, if you can’t get hold of the black sesames just use the white ones, as they provide such a welcome delicate crunch to compliment the soft salmon and the creamy avocado.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

This recipe is perhaps a tad too much for two but if you serve it for four then it’s an excellent starter if you are having people over to dinner.

Sesame Salmon Tartare
Serves 2-4

350g salmon fillet, skin removed
Juice of 3 limes
25ml sesame oil
25ml coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you are not Whole30)
1 chilli, sliced thinly
2 avocados
½ cucumber
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp light olive oil
1 tsp black sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 tsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix together the lime juice, sesame oil, coconut aminos and chilli.
  2. Then dice the salmon into small cubes and submerge into the marinade. Stir everything together so the marinade can fully absorb into the salmon then put cling film over the top and place into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, peel, de-stone and slice the avocado thinly, arrange it at the bottom of your serving dishes.
  4. Then prepare the dressing for the cucumber by mixing together the rice vinegar and olive oil.
  5. Peel and scoop out the seeds from the cucumber. Dice it very finely then add it to the dressing, mixing it all up thoroughly. Pile the cucumber on top of the avocado on your serving dishes.
  6. Then arrange your salmon on top and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti: Day 19 of Whole30

These Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti are simply divine for breakfast. Done. Enough said. See you next week.

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti

Well, maybe I’ll mention that this recipe is heavily adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. I couldn’t recommend the cookbook enough, it’s everyday cooking and all the recipes are utterly tempting. It is based on her blog which has been going before food blogs were even invented. The amount of fabulous recipes she has included over the years is unsurpassed and she is always my first port of call if I need dinner inspiration. She is also lovely as I was very lucky to have the opportunity to hear her speak at one of Divertimenti’s culinary salons about food writing. Her rostis use white potato but since I am avoiding nightshades for the whole30 then sweet potato it is, plus I wanted to add bacon to make it into a complete breakfast food. I used two eggs instead of her one very large egg as my eggs are Burford Browns and tend to come up small-medium; I found that two of these worked very well at binding the mixture. I further paleoed up her recipe by using coconut flour instead of plain and ghee instead of butter. I have spotted no problems with these swaps; all that has resulted has been the most delicious and moreish rostis. of. my. life.

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti  |  Stroud Green Larder

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti  |  Stroud Green Larder

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti  |  Stroud Green Larder

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti  |  Stroud Green Larder

You will have to cook the rostis in batches, Deb recommends pre-heating an oven to warm, then keeping the cooked rostis on baking parchment in the oven whilst you make the others. I also used chefs’ rings which was another departure from the original recipe to ensure a nice round shape to my rostis. This did mean that I didn’t get any stray bits of potato sticking out and getting all crisp. If you don’t have chefs’ rings then you do get the added benefit of these crunchy bits but I used them as it meant I could fit four rostis at a time nicely in my saucepan and make the shaping and cooking quick and easy. Plus, neatness.

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti  |  Stroud Green Larder

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti  |  Stroud Green Larder

It should also go without saying that this is the kind of breakfast food that you won’t want to restrict to one mealtime, you’ll be wanting to make them for lunch and dinner as well. I’m here to tell you that you can! Have at it! Go wild!

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti  |  Stroud Green Larder

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rosti
Makes about 8 rosti

2 sweet potatoes (about 500g in total)
1 onion
30g coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
6 rashers smoked streaky bacon, grilled and cooled
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp ghee

  1. Peel and grate the sweet potatoes and the onion.
  2. Add the coconut flour, baking powder and eggs to the sweet potato and onion shreds. Mix in very well with your hands squeezing so it all binds together.
  3. Cut the bacon into small pieces and add that to the sweet potato mixture too, mixing in so they are dispersed evenly.
  4. Heat a tbsp of ghee on a low-medium heat in a large frying pan. If you are using chef’s rings then lightly grease the insides and place them in the frying pan. Fill them up halfway with the sweet potato mixture, pressing tightly down with the back of a spoon.
  5. Fry for about 4 minutes, then gently remove the chef’s ring making sure the uncooked mixture doesn’t come with it. Check that the bottom of the rostis are lightly golden, if so then flip over with a spatula and fry on the other side for about 3-4 minutes until also lightly golden. Remove and serve or keep warm in the oven until they are all ready.
  6. If you are cooking these in batches, then you will need to add the other tbsp of ghee to the pan before you start on the next batch.

White Peach, Strawberry, Basil and Pistachio Salad: Day 17 of Whole30

Strawberry White Peach Basil and Pistachio Salad
I’d love to be able to tell you that this was the most earth shatteringly innovative fruit salad to ever befall you but the truth is that the recipe is really in the title. I’ve given some quantities below for guidance but really prepare however much you are in the mood for, altering quantities of each ingredient as you see fit, there is no right or wrong, there are just big and small appetites.

Strawberry White Peach Basil and Pistachio Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

There are few things more luxurious than preparing ripe fruit for a delicate salad. The assortment of colours and distinctive scents make the gentle paring of the peach and the light hulling of the summers’ first blush of strawberries such a joy. It’s a lovely thing to do at 4pm when your energies are waning, lunch was too long ago and dinner too far away. With just a handful of prized ingredients you can encapsulate the spirit of summer and sometimes that is worth even more than the food itself.

Strawberry White Peach Basil and Pistachio Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

There are two ways to eat this kind of salad, on a shiny hot day in the garden, quietly in repose, listening to distant lawnmowers and watching the puppy playfully catch the water from the hose. Or you can savour every mouthful at a drizzled window pane, willing the grey clouds away with every luscious bite of summer.

Strawberry White Peach Basil and Pistachio Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

This week I have also enjoyed this salad without the coconut topping but instead with a smattering of black pepper and a light drizzle of very good extra virgin olive oil and it was absolutely cracking.

Strawberry White Peach Basil and Pistachio Salad  |  Stroud Green Larder

White Peach, Strawberry, Basil and Pistachio Salad
Serves 2

1 white peach, sliced
200g strawberries, hulled and quartered
A handful of roughly torn basil
2 tbsp de-shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
3 tbsp thick coconut milk (optional)

Place the fruit, basil and pistachios in a bowl then gently mingle them together with your fingers so they brush up against each other without manhandling or bruising.
If you would like to serve with a topping, whisk up very thick coconut milk until it billows and pour on top.

Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Infused Olive Oil: Day 7 of Whole30

Lemon Garlic and Thyme Olive Oil
If you cook a lot then there are a bunch of tasks which you will be doing on a regular basis like chopping onions or crushing garlic. It’s these menial jobs which can sometimes add a good few minutes onto preparing your meal and let’s be honest, those few minutes can sometimes be better spent thumbing through Grazia or hopping amongst the Sky channels.

This is why I love infused oils; garlic is such a good infused oil mainly because of garlic’s innate tendency to burn easily, so while I am very careful about using fresh garlic in the oven, if all the garlic flavour is within the oil then you don’t need to worry. Also I do get fed up of always peeling and crushing those suckers, I must do it nearly every day. So having an oil where the hard work is done for you is so useful.

This particular infusion of olive oil is brilliant for slathering over a chicken before it goes on to roast. You can also use it drizzled over barbecued meats or steamed vegetables for instant flavour or in salad dressings which cuts out mincing about with mustard and vinegar emulsions, chuck this onto your leaves and you’re golden.

So the main thing I am really trying to get across here is that for about 30 minutes of not too stressful labour of a weekend you can produce an oil that will help you cut down time on your cooking for the next couple of weeks. Just as long as you like all your meals flavoured with lemon and garlic, but who doesn’t?

Dried Thyme  |  Stroud Green Larder

Of course you can use whatever herbs you like, the woodier herbs tend to dry better than the more leafy ones so will impart flavour more easily. It is important to use dried herbs rather than ones picked fresh as mould will gather on fresh herbs floating about in oil. The same goes for the garlic and lemon but I advise you fish those out of the oil anyway then you don’t have to worry about botulism or anything. The other oil infusion I also regularly make is chilli oil. Prepare it in the same way as the garlic infusion by simmering the oil with the chilli then removing the chilli before you decant it.

As a footnote, one of the directions below calls you to peel a whole head of garlic. If you find this a bit of a nuisance then you obviously haven’t seen Martha Stewart’s excellent tutorial which explains how the job can be done in under a minute. And since I tested it out for this recipe I can confirm that it does actually work.

Lemon Garlic and Thyme Olive Oil  |  Stroud Green Larder

Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Infused Olive Oil

A few sprigs of thyme
1 head of garlic
3 strips lemon zest
500ml olive oil

  1. First of all dry the thyme by putting the herb on baking parchment on a baking tray and place in the bottom tray of an oven at the lowest setting you have. Leave the door slightly ajar and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  2. Remove and peel all the garlic cloves from the head of the garlic.
  3. Then place the garlic, along with the lemon zest and olive oil in a wide bottomed saucepan.
  4. Heat the oil on a low setting, never bringing to a simmer, for about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the lemon and garlic with a slotted spoon and leave the oil to cool before decanting into a jar along with the dried thyme.
  6. This should keep well for about 2 weeks.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken: Day 5 of Whole30

Orange Ginger and Sesame Chicken
I have been cooking stir-fries since I was a student so I know by now exactly how I like them. I always cook off the meat first. This is for a few reasons, mainly so the meat doesn’t overcook, as there is nothing worse than dry chicken in your stir-fry. However, by cooking it in the pan first it will leave behind important flavour for the vegetables to cook in, especially if it’s marinated meat. If it’s beef you are using you can ensure it’s cooked exactly to the rarity you like just by searing it off first thing, but when you add it back in at the end make sure the heat is off so it doesn’t continue cooking.

My stir-fries contain a lot of vegetables so it’s also important that the meat has been set aside; I want them to be free to roam the pan so they don’t steam cook, piled on top of each other, jostling for space with the chicken. My final tip is to only add the vegetables to a hot pan with hot oil, as I want them to be cooked hard and fast so they retain bite and don’t get into a soggy mess. This is why I usually blanch my broccoli for a couple of minutes before adding to the stir fry as otherwise it has too much bite and is a bit of a mouthful.

Coconut Aminos  |  Stroud Green Larder

The main ingredients in this chicken marinade are orange juice and coconut aminos. Orange juice is allowed on the Whole30 but only in cooking and not as a drink. Fruit juice in fact is the only sweetener that’s allowed on the plan, but I’m sure we’re expected to use that knowledge responsibly. Besides, here, it’s just involved in a marinade so not all of the juice makes it into the final dish. The coconut aminos is my new friend who arrived into my house only this week as a substitution for soy sauce. Soy is not allowed on the Whole30 and although I have used tamari in the past, which is the Japanese version of soy sauce and is gluten free, I wanted to try something different. You can buy coconut aminos online but it isn’t cheap as it was about £11 a bottle. However, you don’t need much to flavour a recipe and I think it is worth the investment if you are wondering how to get through 30 days without soy sauce.

This was a quick dinner one evening, late after a personal training session, so sorry for the lack of photos, I made it again the next night but again it was late and I was hungry so no pictures. I did want to include the recipe here though as it is one of my old faithful recipes just slightly adapted for the Whole30 plan. Previously I have made this with soy sauce and sherry so it was a bit of an experiment to substitute the soy with my new coconut aminos and to disinvite the sherry. I used the coconut aminos as a straight swap and I have to say I didn’t notice a difference, the marinade tasted just the same as when I have made it before with soy. I compensated for the lack of sherry by adding some sesame seeds which has actually improved the dish immeasurably. I normally do splash some sweet sherry into my stir-fries at the end of cooking but adding sesame instead not only made my dinner suddenly Whole30 compliant but added a lovely crunch to the vegetables.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
60ml coconut aminos
60ml orange juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ head of broccoli florets, blanched
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin batons
Handful of shredded chinese leaf
2 tbsp sesame seeds

  1. Pour the coconut aminos, the orange juice and the garlic into a medium sized bowl then add the chicken and mix to combine. Leave the chicken to marinate for at least an hour but overnight if possible.
  2. Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a wok over a medium flame until hot.
  3. Remove the chicken from its marinade with a slotted spoon and add to the wok, cooking for 5-10 minutes until the chicken has just turned golden. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut oil to the wok and then when hot add the onion, ginger and chilli and cook until the onion is starting to brown.
  5. Then add the rest of the vegetables and the sesame seeds. Stir fry for 5 minutes on a high heat.
  6. Re-introduce the chicken, combining everything together and serve piping hot with another splash of coconut aminos on top.

Cashew Nut Butter: Day 4 of Whole30

Cashew Butter

I am not reinventing the wheel with this recipe. It’s a tried, tested and truly paleo nut butter. It appears endlessly on the internet and all good paleo sites but I still wanted to include it here as part of my own Whole30 recipes as it’s such a godsend in these health driven times, so useful for including as part of my breakfasts, main meals and in particularly snacking.

If on the off chance you have never thought to make your own nut butter you will be interested to hear that it is also perhaps one of the easiest recipes I have written about. All you need are 3 things; unsalted cashews, a food processor and 12 minutes. The recipe below will simply state that you rip open your bag of cashews, throw them into the processor then press on. It’s fascinating to watch the cashews transform in 12 minutes, every so often giving them a bit of a scrape around so it all gets processed evenly.   In no time at all you will have a sweet, smooth and creamy nut butter.

Cashew Butter

I have written about homemade nut butters before when I made my almond butter to be included in my No-Oat Apple and Almond Butter Porridge, and so it’s worth looking at those pictures of the butter being whipped into shape in the food processor to boost your confidence that I am not leading you down the garden path if you are giving this a go for the first time.

This recipe here is for a classic nut butter, I haven’t put any fancy spices or married any other ingredients with it in at the end, I haven’t even salted it. This is because I want it to be used as base ingredient. If tomorrow I decide I would like celery sticks smeared with thai spiced cashew butter then I can toast the spices and include them at that stage. This way I don’t need a million differently flavoured nut butters living in my cupboards, which the other members of my household will be pleased about. Especially since I already have almond, walnut and pecan.

The consistency of this cashew nut butter is also different from the almond butter I have written about before as here I wanted to take the processing a step further. I wanted a gentle butter that had been whipped into a creamy confection. This isn’t grainy and full of nut roughage but smooth and light as air. I achieved this merely by lengthening the time in the food processor. I also didn’t toast the nuts beforehand like I usually would for my almond butter, as I didn’t want the flavour to be too overpowering.

Cashew Butter

So, now it’s in my larder, I can breathe a sigh of relief as I have plans to be eating my nut butter this week as a dip for crudités, in my no-oat porridge and mixed with chopped dates to create little energy balls.

Also, not to be sacrilegious but if you are not doing the Whole30 or sticking to a paleo diet, then by all means use this as you would your regular peanut butter, scrape some on toast, add to biscuits or a cheesecake or eat with chocolate, or eat clean out of the jar.  Okay, phew, calm down, it’s only Day 4.  We can do this!

Print Recipe
Cashew Butter
So creamy and so easy
Cashew Butter
Servings
300 g
Ingredients
  • 300 g cashews
Servings
300 g
Ingredients
  • 300 g cashews
Cashew Butter
Instructions
  1. Tip the bag of cashews into your food processor and press on.
  2. Keep a light eye on the processor, giving the mixture a scrape around every so often.
  3. If you would like a very smooth and creamy nut butter it will take about 12 minutes, if you would like something a bit more robust then it might be to your liking at about 9 minutes, but check, taste and decide for yourself.
Recipe Notes

To make the easiest chocolate chip cookies using this cashew butter see my recipe for Easy Flourless Salted Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookies

CASHEW-BUTTER-LONG-PIN

Rosemary Salt Encrusted Salmon with Sweet Potato Crisps: Day 3 of Whole 30

Rosemary Salt Encrusted Salmon with Sweet Potato Crisps
This is the kind of supper you will be needing on the Whole30, the kind that can be thrown together in a hurry after a long day.   Sweet potato is one of the few high carbohydrate foods you can eat on the Whole30 but that doesn’t mean we should go mad. I limit myself to sweet potato on days when I am really doing some punishing exercise and if it means I have to go for an extra run as I have a sweet potato craving, well surely that can only be a good thing. I just read through that last sentence and it made me sound ever so saintly, c’mon guys you know me, the days I get sweet potato are few and far between.

Sweet Potato Crisps  |  Stroud Green Larder

Sweet Potato Crisps  |  Stroud Green Larder

By cooking finely sliced sweet potatoes in a single layer on your baking tray, not only will you create some lovely crisps to be enjoyed as part of your meal (not as a snack, that just doesn’t sit right on the Whole30 plan) but they only take about 20–30 minutes in a good hot oven so they don’t require an awful lot of effort.

Rosemary Salt Encrusted Salmon  |  Stroud Green Larder

The idea here is to create a lovely balance of textures between the velvety soft salmon and the crisp discs of sweet potato. I love grilled salmon, and since it already has so much flavour all you really need is to help it along a bit with some flavoured salt, this cuts down on the preparation time so you’ve got more of an evening to chill out on the sofa. We have to cook so many meals from scratch on the Whole30 that quick and easy are the watchwords.

Rosemary Salt Encrusted Salmon with Sweet Potato Crisps  |  Stroud Green Larder

This really doesn’t require much of a recipe as it relies really on the pot of rosemary salt which I usually have hanging about in my storecupboard. If you want to make your own it is a quick 5 minute job which will save you plenty of time if you want to quickly pep up a lamb steak or season some roasted parsnips. Just take a few stalks of rosemary, strip them of their leaves and finely chop the leaves to within an inch of their life. Then mix in with about 60g sea salt and decant into a little jar. It will keep for a very long time. Of course, you can also do this with thyme, fennel or any of your woody herbs.

I served this with a mountainous pile of steamed kale which added some much needed greenery to the affair.

Rosemary Salt Encrusted Salmon with Sweet Potato Crisps  |  Stroud Green Larder

Rosemary Salt Encrusted Salmon with Sweet Potato Crisps
Serves 2

2 salmon fillets
1 tsp rosemary salt (or 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary)
⅛ tsp ground white pepper
400g sweet potato
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp smoked garlic powder
½ tsp sea salt
A bit of black pepper

  1. Rub the rosemary salt and the white pepper into the flesh of each salmon fillet then set aside.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and line a couple of baking trays with baking parchment.
  3. Peel, then finely slice the sweet potato into circles, if you have a mandolin then do use that, otherwise just thinly with a knife will also get the job done.
  4. Pour the olive oil, smoked garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper over the sweet potato circles and coat thoroughly. Then lay out onto the baking trays in single layers, don’t worry if they have to overlap a bit though to get them all in.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending how thin you sliced the potatoes. They should come out when the very edges are starting to turn crisp. I’d recommend just taking a bite out of the largest circle to ensure they will all be cooked all the way through.
  6. Meanwhile pre-heat the grill to the highest setting, then when hot place the salmon under. I find that it is usually perfectly cooked when the surface has started to turn golden after about 10 minutes. Do check though by carefully inserting a knife into the fleshiest part as different thicknesses of salmon fillets will cook at different times.
  7. Serve the salmon with the sweet potato crisps and some steamed kale.